It’s easy to be confused. There is a geographical area that was for a long time referred to as “Palestine,”
and there are Arabs who refer to themselves as “Palestinians.”
A quick look at the background of the area gives us a clearer picture:
When the Romans destroyed the Jewish Commonwealth, which was called Judea, in the first century of the
Common Era, they wanted to erase the connection between the name of the land and the Jews. So they
renamed it Palaestina. That is where the name “Palestine” came from, and it had nothing to do with Arabs.
In fact, even though Jews were banished by the Romans, at all times there was some Jewish population
on the land.
Then, for almost 2,000 years, the area was occupied by different conquerors. Palestine was not a separate,
independent state or kingdom during that time. It was just a province under control of one conquering
group or another: Byzantine, Umayyad, etc.
The last conqueror was the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). After the Ottomans were defeated in World War I,
the area came under the jurisdiction of the British. (As you read more about “The Facts,” you will find
information about the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate.)
When the British controlled the area, it was certainly not a Palestinian state for the Arabs: it was recognized
as a homeland for the Jews. In fact, during that time, Jews who lived in Palestine were referred to as
“Palestinians.” The Arabs said they were Arabs, or part of the Syrian nation.
The Jews declared independence in 1948, and called their nation Israel.